Devotional 5/15/20

Ephesians 5: 22-33

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

While none of you are married yet, I still think this is an important piece of scripture to cover. Not only because you may be married one day, but because it shows us how God uses relationships as a way for us to imitate Him. The analogy between marriage and Christ’s relation to His church has limitations, for no husband in this fallen world loves his wife perfectly, and no wife submits perfectly in every circumstance. Yet even the failure to achieve God’s high standard for marriage points us to Christ.

Christ calls all of us to submit to Him. We are to trust in Him and pursue Him. We are to rely not on our own understanding, but on what Christ has made known to us. Through our submission we show love. We are to submit to Christ in all things.

What does it look like to submit to someone? How does this show love?

What relationships exist in our lives in which we should show submission?

Leader Letter 5/14/20

Written By: Eli

Philippians is another one of the books Paul wrote during his imprisonment. Read through Philippians 4 and see what parallels you can draw from our study in Ephesians.

Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

14 Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. 15 And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. 16 Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. 18 I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.

23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

The church in Philippi lived in a Roman colony, where patriotism was prevalent. Hence, the gospel, which says that Jesus is now King of the whole world and that His kingdom will endure, was not popular—and the church was ridiculed and persecuted because of it.

Paul’s letter from prison to the Philippians is written in short essays of poetic form that focus on the theme of our lives being lived-out expressions of our faith in Christ. Paul gives the sample of how his status counts as nothing compared to knowing Christ and living as a citizen in His kingdom. He then closes the letter with a challenge to live by example.

Paul wrote the letter to the Philippians in response to a visit from his friend Epaphroditus, who brought gifts and money from the church in Philippi so they could support him during his imprisonment. What does the generosity of the Philippians say about their character?

How difficult is it to be anxious for nothing? What, if anything, do you find yourself anxious about? What is Paul’s advice as a response?

Reread verse 8. Is there any situation in life where this should not be our response? Explain.





Devotional 5/13/20

Ephesians 5: 12-21

12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Awake, O sleeper,
    and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Living apart from the darkness does not mean withdrawing completely from the world. Instead, walking as children of the light means not engaging in the sins of the unbelieving culture even as we love the sinners around us. When it comes to interacting with the world, we are not forbidden from making friends with those who are still enslaved to sin; rather, we are forbidden from acting in ways that displease God. In fact, we should expose the darkness, in love, to help others see the light of Christ.

Only two responses can follow being exposed to the light. Many will hate the light and those whose lives provide the illumination, and they will try to stamp out the light and silence the church (John 3:19–20; Acts 14:8–23; 19:21–41). Others will feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit and see the darkness of their deeds. They will turn from their sin to Christ and thereby begin to glorify the Lord.

The Holy Spirit’s work of transformation includes changing us into grateful people. In contrast to those in this world who are never content with God’s provision, the true Christian is thankful for everything, even the smallest joys. Believers understand that we deserve nothing but the Lord’s wrath, so we are thankful for all our blessings.

Is there anything in your life you are keeping in darkness? How can you expose this into light?

What are you thankful for? You can you turn this thankfulness into praise?

Leader Letter 5/12/20

           

Written By: Ariel B.

Second Thessalonians is a small book but loaded with great take-aways. It talks about being thankful for fellow believers, it mentions “the day of the Lord” (i.e. end times), not being a social loafer is in there, as well as many other applicable lessons. I am going to share three things that stood out to me as I was reading it, but I hope you will go back and read it through for yourself. It’s such a short book. You could probably read it faster than you could walk around your house three times!

            The first passage I would like to share is 2 Thessalonians 2:2-3.

2 “That you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.” 3 “Let no one in any way deceive you….”

Recently, my husband Daniel had a conversation with a Christian who was believing false doctrine in relation to the end times. Thankfully, after Daniel showed this person what the Bible had to say in both the Old and New Testaments, the person changed their stance and returned to what Scripture clearly says on the topic.

My point to you: Read your Bible and know what God has said! When you are a part of conversations on Biblical topics (or any topic), do you believe any idea people throw out there, or do you listen to what’s being said, then return to Scripture and seek the truth? I hope you are not easily swayed by people’s opinions, but seek the truth which is in God’s Word.

This person could have simply read a couple of passages in Revelation and found the clear, Biblical position. Instead they chose to believe speculations and; therefore, proceeded to worry. Guard against false doctrine and information. Know the Bible!

            The next verse is 2 Thessalonians 2:15.

15 “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.”

            This verse immediately brought to my mind the many people around the world who do not have a physical Bible and, if they do have one, they crave for more time to read it. In a recent Voice of the Martyrs article, it told the story of a woman who had a Bible but did not get to read it very often. One day, her husband found the Bible and tore it to pieces. Sometime later, her husband softened his persecution of her and allowed her a new Bible. He even started going to church with her! Although she has a new Bible, she still keeps the first, torn one. Why? She knows the value of it. She knows how special God’s Word is. She cannot bear to throw it away.

            What about you? Do you value what God says? Have you taken time today to read His Holy Word? Perhaps your Bible is somewhere in your bedroom (or in a folder…that’s in a folder…that’s…on your phone), and it might as well be in the trash can.

            If you have a Bible, please read it. If you don’t have one, I’ll get you one! No human ideas or opinions can ever replace the import words of God. Many people in remote parts of the globe still rely on the Bible being told through word of mouth. If you can read it for yourself, you have a great blessing and should not take that for granted.

            My last point is from 2 Thessalonians 3:7-13, mainly verses 8-9.

8 “Nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 9 not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example.”

             My takeaway is this: anyone can fall into social loafing. Be on guard against it. How? By looking for ways to be a servant. Taking out the trash at home or vacuuming the living room carpet can lighten the load on others in the family. Ways to be a servant at church include setting up chairs on Tuesday night for the Bible lesson or by volunteering at the church’s food pantry ministry. There are many ways to serve, and by serving, avoid the social loafing mentality.

When we serve, we need to serve Christ. Yes, if we help at the food pantry, we are serving people in need, but if done for God, we are also serving God (Matthew 25:34-40).

            This last point may seem pretty basic, but in one’s day to day life, this basic concept of serving others and not being a social loafer can easily be overlooked. I challenge you to join me in making an extra effort to look for ways to serve at home and at church. Let’s glorify God through our good works!

            I found these three passages in 2 Thessalonians encouraging and very motivating. I hope you did as well. I hope you will join me in choosing to read God’s Word, know what He says, value what He says, and put those Biblical truths into action.

            What book of the Bible are you currently reading?

                                                OR

What book of the Bible are you going to start reading?

Devotional 5/11/20

Ephesians 5:1-11

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.

The standard for true love, wisdom, kindness, and justice, is the character of God Himself. This means that we cannot define these moral qualities without reference to the Lord and that we cannot base our understanding of these qualities on the way the world understands them. As we seek to image and reflect God, let us continually turn to His Word so that we can understand what it means to be what He calls us to be.

When we recognize how greatly the Lord has blessed us and how we do not deserve God’s favor, we are more likely to be content with what our Creator has given us. Contentment kills our natural inclination to think that we do not have enough and that we deserve what God has given to others. Thank the Lord for your blessings this day.

Studying the Word of God is not just gaining knowledge of its contents. It also requires us to put what we are reading into practice. As we practice the truth, we become more aware of how this truth is to be applied in difficult circumstances. Dr. John MacArthur writes, “As believers walk in the light of the truth, the knowledge of the Lord’s will becomes clear”.

What does it mean to walk in love?

What does it mean that you were once darkness but are now light?

How do we discern what is pleasing to the Lord?

Devotional 5/8/20

Ephesians 4:20-32

20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

As Christians our identity is found in Christ. We’re called to “put off our old self” which followed in the ways of the world, and to pick up our cross and follow Jesus. Our priority is not ourselves, but our creator. God created us each individually unique for the purpose of worshipping Him.

There are things in this world that should make us angry. The bible is clear that there are some injustices that should stir up a righteous anger within us. What matters is how we let that affect us. Anger comes easily; righteous anger does not. Righteous anger is accompanied by other godly qualities and expressed in godly ways. True anger properly diagnoses what is actual sin, it focuses not on personal offense as much as Godward offense, and then it expresses itself in ways consistent with Christian character.

Our words matter. Often times, they’re much more powerful than we realize. Unity in the body is important, and slander and malice can corrupt this unity quickly. As Christians we should show the love of Christ in all that we do. Such a powerful way of doing this is through our words. Encourage each other, remind one another what Christ has done for us. Use our words to build up, not to destroy,

What does it mean to find your identity in Christ?

What does it look like to show righteous anger?

Think about your conversations this week, have they been righteous?

Leader Letter 5/7/20

Written By: Eli

On Tuesday, we talked about the phrase “renewed in the spirit of your minds” found in verse 23 of Ephesians 4. I wanted to take a look at another time that Paul used this phrase, this time in Romans 12.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.[f] Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.


Romans is one of the most thorough teachings of Paul because he was writing to people he had never met. He had to explain who he was and why they should listen to his teachings, then clearly define what the gospel message means for the believer. He also wrote to them in light of their situation, in which the exiled Jews were now allowed to return to Rome, throwing together two very different groups of new believers: Messianic Jews and Gentile Christians. To say that there was conflict would be an understatement.

The theme that God wants to reconcile the whole world to Himself (not just Israel) is woven throughout the epistle, and because of that truth, we should also be reconciled to one another. Because of the gospel of Jesus and the transforming power of His death and resurrection, we are now capable of living the way that God intended for us to live.

  1. Why would someone test and approve God’s will if God is perfect? (verse 2) What does it mean to “test” it?

  2. What does it mean in verse 5 that “each member belongs to all the others”? How does this play out in your life?

  3. When explaining that love must be sincere, we see two themes.

Guide for Avoiding ConflictGuide for Going Through Conflict
Honor one another above yourselves.[Be] patient in affliction.
Live in harmony with one another.Bless those who persecute you.
Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.Do not repay anyone evil for evil.
If possible, live at peace.Do not take revenge.


What does this say about conflict in the life of a believer? What does it reveal about the will and character of God?

Devotional 5/6/20

Ephesians 4:11-19

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherdsand teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.

God has given each of us gifts to equip us into worship of Him. The unified body of Christ is made up of believers spanning all generations, races, ethnicities, gender, etc. God’s grace is extended to all who receive it. As the body of believers, we are one church, unified in worship of our Creator.

Here, Paul is cautioning us about false teachers and our desires to pursue unrighteousness. He tells us that “we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head”. Jesus wants us to grow up in His ways, not our own. We have been given the word of God as a way for us to draw close to Him. God is still speaking to us today through the word, are we listening?

For us to be unified under God, we each have to seek God. Matthew 6:33 tells us “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” In our pursuit of good through faith, good works will naturally follow. By pursuing Christ, we are unifying ourselves to the rest of the body.

We have to make the choice everyday to choose God and not ourselves. We have to ask ourselves are we living for Christ, or for ourselves. Are our desires God’s desires, or do we desire the things of this world? We must be mindful of the sin in our lives, and know that because of Jesus, that sin no longer has power over us.

What are some ways you can use your gifts to honor Christ?

What does it look like for you to “grow up” when it comes to your faith?

Is there a sin in your life that has been eating away at you? How can you take steps to eliminate it?

Leader Letter 5/5/20

Written By: Eli

In theses uncertain times, its important for us to remember that God is in control. As we’ve been going through Ephesians, we’ve been learning about the sacrifice of Jesus and how that has made us one with Christ. Psalm 19 reminds us of the character of God.

The heavens declare the glory of God,
    and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
    and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
    whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
    and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
    which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
    and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
    and its circuit to the end of them,
    and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect,
    reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
    making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
    rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
    enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
    enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true,
    and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
    even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
    and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
    in keeping them there is great reward.

12 Who can discern his errors?
    Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
    let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
    and innocent of great transgression.

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
    be acceptable in your sight,
    O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

This psalm of David, a man after God’s own heart, tells us about the character of God. The imagery and description of natural things are not meant to be read as scientific text, but rather to send a message to the people of the day—in terms they would understand—that God is in control.

“Look at how majestic His creation is; the whole heavens and earth cannot help but show off his glory and omnipotence!” But please don’t miss the point: it’s not that God is powerful, it’s that He is sovereign. The same hand that created the galaxies, the sun, the earth, and all that is in it is the same hand that guides you and me.

God has spoken to His creation and shown us the right way to live. His law is perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, and true. In a word: holy. This means that we no longer have to live in fear; we can put our trust and faith in a perfect God. We know His will is good and wise because He’s proven Himself over and over from the dawn of creation to the present time. He has not abandoned His creation to a desolate isolation. No, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us: all of that law was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, whose death redeems us.What in creation reveals the evidence of God’s hand to you and makes you marvel at His glory?

Why is there great reward in keeping the statutes of the Lord? Is it in the accomplishment of obedience, or is it in the results of doing what is right?

Verse 12 says, “Who can discern his errors?” meaning, apart from God, there is no ethical or moral guide. Why then, is it important that we keep moving closer in our walk with God?

How often do you really depend on God day to day? Do your behaviors reflect that you believe He’s big enough to handle any situation in life?

Make verse 14 your prayer for today: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and Redeemer.”

Devotional 5/4/20

Ephesians 4:1-10

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says,

“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
    and he gave gifts to men.”

(In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)

All of us are different, yet united under Christ. Here Paul is urging his readers to promote unity of the church through Godly living. We all come to the Father in one way, through Jesus Christ. For there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, which is the baptism of the Spirit that brings us into unity of the Body of Christ. Jesus is the only way. It is through His sacrifice on the cross that we are saved, not of our own doing.

While there may be many beliefs floating around today, the Bible is clear about what it means to be a Christian. Our hope is found in Jesus Christ. Not everyone who calls themselves a Christian always believes that. Some would claim that God is love, therefore anything we do in love is acceptable. Some claim that God is just, and that to be saved we have to do more right than wrong.

The truth is that God is both loving and just. For us to ask the question, how can a loving God send someone to hell, we must also ask the question, how can a just God send anyone to heaven? Because of Jesus, our sins are forgiven. When God looks at us, He sees His Son. God has given us the gift of grace to make a way for us to be with Him. While we all may be different, we are united in our common belief in Christ.

What does it mean to walk in a manner worthy of our calling?

What do you think it means to be united in Christ?

How can we use our gifts to honor God?